New Canon Cameras Document Navy SEALS
March 8, 2012 by Screenmag
In an unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs in a film like no other in Hollywood’s history. A fictionalized account of real life Navy SEAL operations, Act of Valor blazes into theatres nationwide on February 24th and features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-their-seat journey. This fast-paced, depiction of daring covert operations delivers a thrilling mix of stealthy tension, intense human drama, and sudden fierce combat waged by lethal heroes armed with the world’s best training and firepower. Act of Valor is a Bandito Brothers film produced and directed by Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh and written by Kurt Johnstad. Crucial to capturing the film’s absorbing up-close-and-personal action was its use of lightweight, highly mobile EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR cameras from Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions. As director of photography, and now member of Canon’s Explorer of Light program, Shane Hurlbut explained, the film could not have been made with any other camera system.
“Nothing is as small and nimble as our Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera packages,” said Hurlbut, a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, who has captured moving images using practically every film and video format currently available. “Never have I been so excited by the creative possibilities a camera offers cinematographers.”
“Inventing new perspectives for creative storytelling demands innovative new tools and we are proud to be a part of that process. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera provides filmmakers with a highly compact and mobile form factor. This camera has sparked our recent introduction of the new Cinema EOS system, our formal entrance into the world of cinema and television production,” noted Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A.
“Because the Canon 5D Mark II is so light weight, we were able to defy conventional motion picture camera physics and capture a high-quality cinematic image, which ultimately looked incredible on a 100-foot theatrical screen,” said Scott Waugh, co-director, Act of Valor.
The Canon 5D Mark II delivers full 1920 x 1080 HD video recording at user-selectable frame rates of 30 (29.97), 24 (23.976) and 25 fps. Employing a 21.1-megapixel 35mm full-frame Canon-manufactured CMOS sensor measuring 36 x 24 mm, the 5D Mark II also utilizes Canon’s DIGIC 4 image processors, which employ sophisticated digital signal processing to maximize picture quality and provide advanced operational features. HD footage is recorded to universally available CF cards for exceptional workflow convenience. According to Hurlbut, the camera is nothing less than a “game-changer” for motion-picture production.
“I call the Canon 5D Mark II a ‘game-changer’ for several reasons,” Hurlbut elaborated. “The first is its big CMOS sensor’s ability to collect light in widely varying ISOs. It’s very clean up to 1600 ISO. Its light-gathering capability has a nice, very film-like gradient. The 5D Mark II’s sensor also delivers ‘VistaVision’ depth of field. No other digital HD camera out there will deliver that. I find that if you operate at the right f-stop with the 5D Mark II, you get a wonderful, shallow depth of field. You’re also getting skin tones unlike any delivered by other cameras. I don’t think the other manufacturers have put the kind of R&D into their cameras that Canon put into its 5D Mark II. Perhaps the biggest reason why the 5D Mark II is a game changer is because it’s so compact. You can capture perspectives with it that no other camera system can deliver.”
Guerrilla Tactics Shot on sea, air and land in many locations around the world, Act of Valor owes much of its cinema verité style to the compact size of the Canon 5D Mark II, which enabled Hurlbut and his six-man crew to be nearly as stealthy as the active-duty SEALs the film depicts. The crew was able to transport an eight-camera production package in the overhead bins of airliners and avoid transportation difficulties of shipping larger more sensitive equipment. Once on location, the crew went into what Hurlbut calls “platoon module,” a tactic for self-sufficiency in which they could hand-carry everything they needed, thanks to their compact 5D Mark II cameras and the minimal support and lighting gear required.
The compact size of the Canon 5D Mark II also allowed for a lot of set-ups each day that Hurlbut says would not have been possible with larger camera systems. Hurlbut had his crew outfit their 5D Mark II cameras for different shooting configurations that could be switched at a moment’s notice with accessories from such companies as Redrock Micro and Zacuto.
“More than anything, what I love about the Canon 5D Mark II is that it’s part of a global revolution,” Hurlbut concluded. “The 5D Mark II is causing a paradigm shift in the production industry because it provides film-like quality combined with lightweight operation and amazing mobility. It’s also affordable, so it’s giving a lot of people a voice who’ve never had one before. I think the style of filmmaking that’s going to come out of the use of the 5D Mark II will be a whole, fresh new style that hasn’t even been named yet.” owners.